Summary: John 15:2 has been the cause of a lot of confusion for many Christians. We read that “He cuts off every branch in Me that does not bear fruit,” and we wonder what type of “fruit” is He talking about? If I fail, will He cut me off?
Jesus Lifts Us Up
by S. M. Henriques
Have you ever felt as though you needed a fresh start? Well, who hasn’t? President John Kennedy found himself wishing once that he could start over. In 1963 he visited West Berlin, and made an impassioned speech which would be remembered for years to come. The climax of his speech was when he paused, and then cried, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" The crowd that day in 1963 was swept up in the emotion of his words and ignored their meaning until later.
Kennedy had wanted to say, "Ich bin Berliner!" or "I am a Berliner!" But what he actually said was, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" or "I am a jelly doughnut!" I’m sure that looking back on that moment, Kennedy wished that he could do that over!
But there are other occasions when the thing we wish we could do over is much more serious than that, when lives are at stake. John Newton was a rough, dirty sailor with a foul mouth. He hated life, and life hated him. He was the captain of a slave ship. His mother had told him about Jesus when John was still very young, and even though he resisted her influence, he could never escape it. Then one day, someone gave John Newton a copy of Thomas a Kempis’ book “The Imitation of Christ,” and he was gloriously saved. He began going all over England sharing his faith, and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In his older years, he had to have an assistant stand in the pulpit with him on Sundays because he was so weak. He was nearly blind and spoke in whispers, but nothing could keep him from preaching while he still had breath. One Sunday, while delivering his message he repeated the sentence: "Jesus Christ is precious." His helper whispered to him: "But you have already said that twice." Newton turned to his helper and said loudly, "Yes, I’ve said it twice, and I’m going to say it again." The stones in the ancient sanctuary fairly shook as the grand old preacher said again: "Jesus Christ is precious!"
John Newton needed a fresh start in his life, and because of Jesus, John Newton received a fresh start in life. He looked back on his life, and realized what a great thing Jesus had done for him, and his experience with Christ is immortalized in the words to our great hymn, “Amazing Grace.” It truly was amazing grace that picked up John Newton and gave him another chance.
Another person who needed lifting up was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. D. L. Moody stated years ago, “The thief had nails through both hands, so that he could not work; and a nail through each foot, so that he could not run errands for the Lord; he could not lift a hand or a foot toward his salvation, and yet Christ offered him the gift of God; and he took it. Christ threw him a passport, and took him into Paradise.” In spite of the things the thief had done, Jesus welcomed him into the Kingdom.
You’ve never been a slave trader, nor have you ever hung, dying, on a Roman cross. Yet you and I can identify with the need to start over. We can identify with the need for someone to come along and lift us up, in spite of our sin; someone who can see the potential that yet remains in us, and loves us regardless of who we are or what we have done.
Through the years, John 15:2 has been the cause of a lot of confusion for many Christians. We read that “He cuts off every branch in Me that does not bear fruit,” and we find ourselves “wondering what type of “fruit” is He talking about? And what if I fail to bear that fruit? Will I be “cut off”?
This line of thinking leads to worry, and has even caused more than a few to wonder if they can somehow lose their salvation. Today I want to challenge the traditional line of thinking that Jesus will cut us off from Him and the rewards of eternity with Him, if we somehow don’t measure up.
But there are other ways to translate this. I don’t want to turn this into a Greek lesson, but it is important enough for us to look at it. The word that is translated “cut” here in John 15:2 can be translated into English much better by the word “lift,” or “take,” as in “take away.” Here are some examples of ways that exact same word is used: (Note: words in CAPS represent the same Greek word translated various ways.)
Look with me first in the book of Matthew: